Teleportation, the transfer of objects or energy from one point to another without actually traversing the physical space between them, has been the preserve of science fiction movies for years. But real life is catching up. Scientists from China have successfully teleported a single photon from the Gobi desert to a satellite equipped with a highly sensitive photon receiver more than 300 miles away. So how did they do it? It is all down to what is known as quantum entanglement. This occurs when two particles effectively share the same existence after being created at the same time and in the same place. Even when the two particles or photons are separated, quantum entanglement persists so that if one changes the second one which is in another location also changes. If one of the entangled particles then interacts with a third non-entangled photon, the change is mirrored by the twin particle in the different location. Hey presto the third particle can be teleported to another location without the need to travel because the twin particle now contains the information about the third particle. By entangling two photons together and observing one, it is therefore possible to instantaneously transmit information in a potentially limitless way. This has been observed many times over in the laboratory but by breaking the record for the longest distance for entanglement, the team from China has now demonstrated it is possible to teleport matter from Earth to an orbiting satellite. There may be a long way to go before humans can do away with tiresome commutes by just jumping on a teleporter, but quantum teleportation, as it exists today, could be developed into an unhackable communications networks, a sort of quantum internet, as Professor Sandu Popescu from Bristol University explains, “The laws of nature offer protection…If someone was to intercept the information you could detect it because whenever you try to observe a quantum system you disturb it.” Now that’s no small matter.